Forum Activity for @brian horsley

brian horsley
@brian horsley
09/04/14 09:29:29AM
48 posts

Heavy Metals


Posted in: Chocolate Education

Speaking from the South American perspective, no individual grower I've ever heard of has the capacity or resources to do this testing. and its not necessary as they sell mostly to middlemen who in turn sell to aggregators who turn bulk beans into cheap liquor for cheap nestle and winter products. No individual small producer could be held to account under the current value chain.

I assume the big co-ops in San Martin must cooperate with their US and EU clients, either here on site or there at the destination end, testing finished origin products or they couldn't comply with US / EU regs. The Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture has been concerned about this and actively opposed the latest, stricter EU cadmium regs.

As for Maraon chocolate, we have had our Pure Nacional beans and Fortunato #4 couverture tested in the US and EU and we meet all regs for cadmium content. We are fortunate that our location in the Maraon Canyon has naturally compliant soils!

Saludos, Brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
06/11/14 09:53:21AM
48 posts

More bugs in wild beans?


Posted in: Chocolate Education

its nothing inherent in the beans, its a warehouse or transport issue. you're probably talking about polilla moths, they can have strong or weak years depending on weather and humidity patterns. polilla levels are also affected by the condition of the warehouse, whether they've fumigated recently, how long the beans are stored, and how and when they were transported. For Beni wild beans they have to go for days along river routes, then days in trucks up over the andes, then on a boat, the logistics are horrendous and polilla can multiply at various stages along the way. Its frankly a miracle that any of those beans make it to market without major damage, a true testament to Volker Lehman's prowess.

brian horsley
@brian horsley
03/31/14 02:21:37PM
48 posts

Moisture meter


Posted in: Classifieds

Hi from Peru Melanie! I use a Farmex (now rebranded as Agratronix) Mt-Pro and it works well. It doesn't have a native cacao setting so i use the spanish peanuts setting and calibrate it for my beans. its small and portable, not so cheap at around $250 but has proven durable and reliable in the harsh conditions here in Peru

Saludos, brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
03/31/14 02:09:52PM
48 posts

"Whole Bean Chocolate"


Posted in: News & New Product Press

"ADDED NUTRITION"?!?!?!?!?!

I guess he means dog, cat and chicken feces, human urine, vehicle exhaust, dust, salmonella, etc.?? For his customer's sake I sincerely hope he gets his cacao from a known source with elevated / isolated drying beds like mine, or someone's going to get really sick.

brian horsley
@brian horsley
01/29/14 03:02:47PM
48 posts

freezing cacao seeds after fermentation


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Hi angenieux, I don't know your weather conditions, but I slow air/sun dry my beans naturally on elevated mesh beds under a transparent plastic roof (here is a link to the plastic sheets I use - I don't use their design I have my own dryer design, I just use their plastic http://www.tecnatrop.com/secafen/secafen-ww.htm )and even when we have a solid week of no sun they dry fine. the key for us is to make sure air is moving both above and below the beans 24 hours a day. Even when its very wet and humid they will dry through transpiration, although when there isn't any sun at all for 7 days they don't look as good. But the flavor is fine.

Saludos, brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
01/29/14 02:56:53PM
48 posts

freezing cacao seeds after fermentation


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

volker lehman has the slickest air dryer I've seen at his flor de cacao installation in Palos Blancos (alto Beni) bolivia. uses wood for heat (which costs basically nothing where he is) but no smoke flavor, the heat is transfered through a coupler using fire heated water. But it didn't look cheap, he had some donor $$ I believe . But design-wise, it was impeccable.

brian horsley
@brian horsley
01/20/14 09:32:03AM
48 posts

COCOA butter press - really necessary?


Posted in: Opinion

Hi Clay, I just wanted to mention that per the wishes of a client I have made chocolate using our pure nacional beans and the only thing available here at the moment - non deodorized cocoa butter from a domestic peru source. You must know as well as I do that the beans used in pressing butter are often if not almost always lower quality and poorly fermented and selected. the defects of the butter were clearly evident in the chocolate. in my grand experience of 1 time doing it, it is absolutely crucial to use deodorized cocoa butter or the vinegar acid and fermentation defects in the beans used for butter will dominate the flavor of the chocolate

brian horsley
@brian horsley
01/21/14 08:25:13PM
48 posts

Group Review - Fortunato #4


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Very decent of you to be so considerate Choco, I think it speaks to your integrity. I didn't feel like you went anywhere near out of bounds in your comment, but thank you for not simply trolling.

Saludos, Brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
01/20/14 09:25:32AM
48 posts

Group Review - Fortunato #4


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Hi Gap, this Brian Horsley, the bean guy for Maraon Chocolate, writing from Peru. I posted this already but now i don't see it so reposting, please forgive me if it appears twice. House of Anvers is the retail representative for Fortunato #4 in Australia.

Saludos, Brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
01/20/14 09:22:19AM
48 posts

Group Review - Fortunato #4


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Hi Vera, this Brian Horsley, the bean guy for Maraon Chocolate, writing from Peru. I'm so glad you enjoyed the chocolate, i really love the swiss style and slow conch too. when I visited the Felchlin factory in Schwyz last year i was overwhelmed by the care and attention to detail given to the beans by the Felchlin team. Sepp Schoenbachler, the chocolate boss at Felchlin, is truly a master in my opinion at bringing out balanced and rounded flavors from what are considered to be difficult and temperamental bans to work with. Thanks again for your patronage!

Saludos, Brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
01/20/14 09:17:40AM
48 posts

Group Review - Fortunato #4


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Hi Choco, this Brian Horsley, the bean guy for Maraon Chocolate, writing from Peru. I never comment on anyone's perception of our beans or chocolate, its subjective and everyone has their own opinion which is by definition right for them. I only wanted to comment that our marketing budget is zero. All our PR ( on the Maraon Chocolate side, not our retail clients ) comes from free press. We have never bought an ad, paid for a stand at a trade show, etc. We are a small company - albeit growing due to positive market acceptance of our product - and don't have the budget for any expensive marketing of any kind. The beans are truly difficult and expensive to source, buy, process, transport, and make into chocolate. Those factors, and as with every other product in the world, retail margin, are the basis for the cost, not marketing.

Saludos, Brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
12/09/13 09:21:46AM
48 posts

sourcing organic/fair trade/criollo or trinitario beans


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Hi Gifford, just wanted to say that I recently sampled some of your beans and they were excellent. Post harvest was clearly top notch. Kudos to you and your team, job well done.

Saludos,

Brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
11/06/13 10:22:48AM
48 posts

Highest altitude cacao in the world


Posted in: News & New Product Press

I think I might have found the highest altitude cacao in the world. Nobody can know for sure, but we do know that almost all cacao grows below 1,000 feet above sea level. This tree and a few others are healthy and happy at 5,448 feet (1,661 meters) above sea level. There were no pods yet but plenty of flowers. When these trees produce pods the fruit is quickly eaten by squirrels or monkeys.

saludos, brian


updated by @brian horsley: 04/12/15 04:27:34PM
brian horsley
@brian horsley
01/19/13 07:41:22PM
48 posts

I'm Interested In Your Opinion!


Posted in: Opinion

brad you once offered me your opinion on my marketing materials, and since you asked i will do you the same service.

the site seems like a bunch of pages full of small hard to read text apparently written by you in the same voice as you use here on choc life. no interesting pics. almost no detailed information on your very numerous fillings and rolled in coatings for your products. what's hot diggity made of? what's a pastel sequin? after i click a link it turns light pink and i can't see it against the white background. when i clicked "i promise" it took forever to load the order form and when it did it was ugly and confusing. some pages had the text cut off like you could scroll down but you couldn't. the heavy text and lack of imagery makes it seem antiquated and a little amateurish. there's more but that's the gist, good luck with your new location.

saludos,
brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
07/24/12 01:36:04AM
48 posts

Washing Beans after Ferment


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Hi Tom, I've seen a setup to do this in Piura here in Peru but haven't seen any results. It was basically a large upright rectangular wood chamber that they would fill with beans and pressure wash with water from a tank. they said that it makes the beans more attractive and easier to dry, but no beans were in process when i visited.

unless you wanted to do rawunroastedchocolate, then i'm not sure i see the benefit. is winnowing a problem after roasting? I'm more of a bean guy and less of of a chocolate maker but when i have made chocolate the winnowing is not a problem after roasting. I can definitely see where shells that separate easily could be a problem in shipping. After my beans go from campo to city to port to boat to port to city to factory they need to be tough to get there unbroken. I have to be real careful about not letting them get too dry on the dryer bed or they can crumble in transit. my understanding is that the processors want whole beans to roast and not raw nibs.

as for flavor or aroma loss, i don't know. maybe taking away any part of the natural organic material results in a lessened flavor potential? No experience on that front.

brian horsley
@brian horsley
06/12/12 12:26:28PM
48 posts

The Malting Process as it Relates to Cacao Fermentation


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Hi tom i was in campo and offline for some time there. sorry for the delay. I said that the 1 day rest period did NOT produce a noticeable difference, they were indistinguishable flavor-wise from beans taken out of the pods the same day as harvest which is our normal procedure.

brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
05/29/12 01:58:15PM
48 posts

The Malting Process as it Relates to Cacao Fermentation


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Hi from Peru Tom, I can only speak to my personal experience with this in one place and two varieties of cacao, and without a serious grounding in the chemistry of it which you appear to have. i've done sample lots of pure nacional (with 40% white beans) and ccn51 leaving cut pods on the ground 1, 3 and 5 days before opening and beginning fermentation. the 1 day lots are not noticeably different from putting the beans in the fermenter the same day they are opened.

in 3 days, as you say many beans germinate. these have a slightly different aroma going into the fermenter, and they seem to ferment a little differently, and taste a little different once fermented, producing a problem with uniformity between the two classes of bean. also the germinated beans can have a problem with their skin sloughing off somewhat in the fermenter box and thus they are not well protected on the dryer bed and can get kind of burned and crumbly in the time it takes the other beans to dry.

at 5 days most of the beans have germinated and to me they have an off flavor, slightly putrid, that does not improve with fermenting. a matter of opinion obviously and my palate is not among the best so who knows?

a few logistical problems, at least here in my area with letting them sit -- the cacao parcel is not always right next to the farmer's house and if the pods are left lying there often someone will steal them. also a pile of pods is like a dessert tray to a squirrel or monkey, they get some % of pods on the tree but i have seen a sitting pile get ravaged almost 100% by critters. finally many consider a germinated bean defective, it has a telltale hole where the germ comes out and it can affect grading of the beans.

so for all those reasons we don't do it here, but in the right place at the right time, and taking logistical issues off the table, it might be a good option. i am attaching the one study i know of which addresses it, from portillo et al in venezuela, this is the english translation they published, its not perfect, if you want the original spanish let me know. they conclude that 0 days on the ground is best, but i think they only compared it to 5 days, not any intermediate value like 3 or 4. also they are talking only about criollo porcelana

good luck in darwin,

brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
06/22/13 09:45:04AM
48 posts

2012 cacao and chocolate salon - Lima, Peru


Posted in: Travels & Adventures

you can communicate with Stella Coello of USAID at scoello@usaid.gov . One of the key people working on the salon for the Peruvian Ag Ministry got injured and is on bed rest and Stella has stepped in to fill some of her duties while she recovers. Stella speaks english and can put you in touch with the right people to "seed the clouds"

brian horsley
@brian horsley
06/21/13 11:01:43AM
48 posts

2012 cacao and chocolate salon - Lima, Peru


Posted in: Travels & Adventures

Hi Mark, yes I'll be there, they have me giving a presentation on saturday i think. In previous years it was just as cacao focused as chocolate, and you could certainly speak to most of the heads of the big cooperatives like Acopagro, Sol Verde, Naranjillo, Cepicafe, Ceproaa, etc. This year it seems to be scaled back, i think USAID has decreased or cut entirely their support, so I get the impression that it might be more consumer chocolate focused this year. Having said that, there will definitely be at least some cacao people there, and they're always looking for clients. also the folks from the Ag ministry or Appcacao can connect you to potential suppliers.

Is this a nature Conservancy project (i looked you up) or are you thinking of getting into chocolate? or are you already into it?

brian horsley
@brian horsley
05/24/12 01:18:05AM
48 posts

2012 cacao and chocolate salon - Lima, Peru


Posted in: Travels & Adventures

The 2012 version of Peru's cacao and chocolate salon takes place July 4-8. I'm not connected to the salon in any way, although I may give a presentation, the organizers have yet to confirm. The website is poor but the link is:

http://www.salondelcacaoychocolate.pe/index.html

BecauseI live and work with cacao farmers in the campo here in Peru, I sometimes feel disconnected with the world of chocolate, despite being directly involved in it. If any chocolate life members are planning to come to Peru for the salon, i'd love to get together, have a chance to speak english, and gain new perspectives on the cacao and chocolate industries.

If anyone has any questions about the salon, peru, or travel to peru, let me know and I'll be glad to help as time and internet connection permits. I look forward to meeting any intrepid types who make the trip.

brian


updated by @brian horsley: 04/12/15 02:37:23AM
brian horsley
@brian horsley
03/26/12 03:33:21PM
48 posts

Stuffed nose when Cracking and Winnowing


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Hi Felipe, without knowing what kind of beans or equipment you are using, I would say that you are guessing correctly. Cacao dust is a big problem for us when we are bagging for export for example, its a strong eye/respiratory irritant. that same dust is present in roasting and winnowing. in chocolate processing you also have acetic acid laden vapor, ash particles, and your respiratory tissues are dried out from the heat potentially, which makes all problems worse. Grinding and conching liberates a lot of vinegar (acetic) acid which is very hard on the respiratory system.

If the mask helps then I would say you need a better mask or a filtered breathing system. try an N95 rated medical mask for example which should mold around the nose, seals off better than a simple exam mask, and protects against finer particles. or go to a 1 or 2 cartridge respirator, using cartridges rated for fine particulate and/or acid vapors. they're not fun to wear but they do protect you.

hope this helps

brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
03/21/12 12:30:44AM
48 posts

Outsourcing chocolate production


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Hi Daniel, are you seeking quotes to potentially actually do this, or just to get numbers for a school project? I can ask at a factory here in Peru that does that kind of small chocolate run, but i can't waste their time on a purely theoretical problem.

saludos,

brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
03/20/12 03:58:27PM
48 posts

World's Rarest Chocolate? Anyone care to weigh in?


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Ok Brad, many of your forays into the forums end exactly here, and now i see why in a more complete light. You're saying worlds rarest cacao and we're saying worlds rarest chocolate. we both think we're justified in using the language we use. I maintain that you have a rather abusive nature on these boards, and you rather abusively disagree with me.

I still think you're probably a pretty good guy, I've had many friends who are abrasive and hard to embrace but worth the effort and you come across that way. This must be incredibly boring to anybody that bothers to read through it so for my part I will drop it there. I hope I have the chance to meet you someday, try your chocolate and hopefully we can drink a beer and have some laughs.

brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
03/20/12 02:46:52PM
48 posts

World's Rarest Chocolate? Anyone care to weigh in?


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Ok Brad I accept that your opinion and mine may differ on this, I wouldn't call our approach deceptive and very misleading, as its imposssible to determine exactly what is the worlds rarest. Perhapsonly the beans from 1 INDIVIDUAL POD OF CACAO (Sebastian !!!!!) can be called the worlds rarest.

I will say that your Choklat website features the phrase "We start with the rarest cocoa beans..." center front and large on the home page. when i click on Learn More I have a choice between Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, and Truffles and Confections. Milk Chocolate and Truffles have no information about the cacao used. Clicking on Learn More under Dark Chocolate leads to information about Jim's brazilian beans, nothing about mexico, nothing about porcelana, nothing about 50lb batches with distinct flavors per batch.

Is your chocolate really made fromthe "Worlds Rarest Cacao?" Clearly not, by your own standards. Is that "deceptive and very misleading". I frankly don't think so, but it is hypocritical for you to criticize me for doing exactly what you are doing. By your own standards you should probably make some changes to your website asap so as to stop deceiving and misleading your own clients.

I think you're probably a good guy Brad but it seems like you're using "honesty" as a shield to be a hypocrite and a jerk on these boards. How about a little civility and getting your own marketing house in order before you start throwing mud against my good name?

brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
03/20/12 08:15:14AM
48 posts

World's Rarest Chocolate? Anyone care to weigh in?


Posted in: Tasting Notes

hi all, lots of interesting stuff here. to take it one by one:

It is correct that we have not tested every cacao in the world, so is ours definitively the rarest? I don't know, but I do know that there is no other source of high altitude, 40% white beans, pure Nacional cacao on the planet that we know of right now other than ours so we consider it as rare as anything else out there. Brad uses the phrase "the rarest cocoa beans" referring to beans from Jim Lucas' Brazilian plantation, which is probably not the smallest in the world. Rodney calls his Piura beans "ultra-rare" porcelana criollo, but to my knowledge Cepicafe has not genetically tested them to show Criollo genetics, and Piura's production is way more than than the little valley where we work. We're all in the business of marketing and selling chocolate as effectively and ethically as we can. We can probably all agree not to parse each other's marketing language down to the last degree. Especially because i've met Rodney, like him, liked his sample chocolate a lot and want him and Original Beans to succeed wildly. I'm sure I would feel the same about Brad and Jim and their cacao and chocolate if I could meet them.

I agree with you Brad that these distinctions are pretty hard for anyone who isn't neck deep in this stuff to understand or take seriously or care about. But people are getting turned on to really good chocolate these days, the market may be going in the right direction so that's good for all of us.

Rodney the existence of our cacao brings into question whether Nacional originated in Peru or Ecuador. Ours is genetically equal to what is considered the reference example of nacional, but nothing of comparable genetic purity has been tested recently anywhere in Ecuador that I know of, nobody knows definitively where it comes from, and the transmission route from one place to the other is also not known. Or maybe Sebastian knows something about this??......

Consider your opinion accepted Sebastian, I didn't take it as disrespect, you sound far more knowledgable than me. when you initially said "blend" I took it to mean blending beans from various sources and varieties to make fortunato 4 chocolate which we don't do.

Our couverture is not being used in any baked goods that I'm aware of, for exactly the reason Brad mentioned - it wouldn't make economic sense for the client, and it would be a waste of the chocolate's unique flavor.

Finally, Clay is right Steve Devries was instrumental in our start up phase as a consultant and deserves credit - thank you Steve!

Good luck to all, have a great day!

brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
03/19/12 12:33:08PM
48 posts

World's Rarest Chocolate? Anyone care to weigh in?


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Hi all this is Brian Horsley from Maraon Chocolate. Saw this thread and I thought I would clarify a couple of things. I live in Peru with the farmers full time and am responsible for all aspects of collection, selection and post harvest processing.

We use one heirloom variety of cacao from a number of smallholders in one small valley in northern peru that has been genetically tested as pure Nacional. Our variety is genetically equivalent to the La Gloria and Las Brisas Nacional accessions, what are widely considered to be the "reference" or purest known examples of Nacional cacao. But our cacao, unlike Nacional from Ecuador, has on average 42% white beans, and grows at much higher altitude. Also the climate and terroir is different, with a resulting difference in flavor from what is historically known of Ecuadorian nacional cacao.

As Rodney says, Piura has some populations of all white cacao. So do we in our valley. We don't select for bean whiteness, we select for genetic purity. That is why its so rare, because its the only known genetically pure Nacional cacao, none has been found of this purity anytime recently in Ecuador, and the first genetically tested Nacional found outside of Ecuador. Itis only available from certain farms in one small valley in northern peru.

We have spent a lot of time and effort developing fermenting and drying profiles to take into account the mix of purple and white beans present which present fermenting challenges. I am currently achieving 98% + fermented beans, 0 slaty, 0 off flavors, and almost no vinegar acid due to some techniques which i personally have developed (with assistance from some very experienced cacao/chocolate people) and supervise daily.

We do not claim to make chocolate from pigment free beans, we select for varietal purity and the beans here happen to average over 40% white beans. The remaining 60% have a lot of pink, fairly white beans and some purples too. This diversity tends to give a lot of complexity to our chocolate's flavor profile.

Our Fortunato #4 couverture is not a blend. it is made from pure nacional beans that i personally buy raw, ferment and dry, and send to switzerland, to be mixed with a small amount of cocoa butter and sugar. no lecithin, vanilla, salt or anything else. No beans of any other variety are present. We sell our couverture mostly to high end chocolatiers, although we have pastry chefs among our clients. More information is available at the website. Many of our clients have websites where you can see how it is being sold. Almost none of it is sold as "part of something else", and so I would categorically disagree with Sebastian's comment that it "can't be too remarkable."

Of course taste is subjective, if Sebastian thinks its just "ok" nobody can dispute that. But the reception in the marketplace confirms to us daily that our chocolate is indeed very fine in flavor and presentation.

Thanks for bringing this up Brad, I have always respected your style and honesty on these boards. If anyone has any questions about our cacao or chocolate I can always be reached here, although when I'm in the campo I frequently go for long periods of time without access.

Saludos, Brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
03/15/12 12:15:52AM
48 posts

Any great tasting raw chocolate?


Posted in: Opinion

I'm not a raw foodie, don't care about health benefits, doesn't matter to me how raw is defined, or if its even possible. Just curious if anyone on this board has ever tried any great tasting chocolate that calls itself raw?

Here in Peru there is none available, i've never been able to try any. Anyone willing to comment on flavor/quality of raw brands, or recommend one that i could have someone bring down sometime? Again I don't care if its really "raw". Just seems like unroasted and presumably unconched chocolate would be bitter, astringent, and if the beans are fermented, vinegar-y.

any suggestions?


updated by @brian horsley: 04/12/15 06:23:58PM
brian horsley
@brian horsley
03/15/12 12:08:01AM
48 posts

Raw Chocolate


Posted in: Opinion

i buy raw beans at the farm, do all the post harvest processing, and i've made chocolate in a small factory, although i'm mostly a bean guy. i really doubt that any product that tastes like chocolate goes all the way through the process without going well over the raw limit wherever temp they put that limit.

brian horsley
@brian horsley
01/16/12 03:14:25PM
48 posts

"fair trade is dead" - an interesting perspective


Posted in: Uncategorized

http://www.justcoffee.coop/blog/%5Buser%5D/2012/01/13/fair_trade_is_dead

FULL WEBSITE TEXT AT BOTTOM OF POST

This article was written by coffee specialists but it applies equally in cacao / chocolate in my opinion.

He nails it when he writes "In 1997......farmers knew that, despite good intentions, they had already lost control of what would become branded as Fair Trade. Over the years the certifying bodies in the north controlled the conversation and set the norms with feedback from farmers, but without farmers truly having any ownership of the organization. Consumers could see farmers' faces on marketing materials and bags of coffee, but could not hear producer voices. Now farmers want their voices heard."


I've spoken with hundreds ofunaffiliatedcacao farmers in peru and ecuador, and it never made sense to any of them. I've spoken with dozens ofaffiliatedcacao farmers and they ranged from lukewarm to confused about FT. Nobody I've ever spoken to loved it except european administrators who derived a living from it. something grass roots and farmer-based should now take Fair Trade's place. people on this forum can be a part of it.

Brian

FULL WEBSITE TEXT

Sitting in San Cristobal de Las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico things are crystal clear. Underneath the din of organizations in the North clamoring to set the definition and terms of Fair Trade, small-scale coffee farmers-- the original and supposed main beneficiaries of the system(s)-- have a unified opinion that Fair Trade has not worked. This of course, on the surface, is not a new revelation. However, where in the past we often discussed Fair Trade as not working, we now are closing the book on it-- we are speaking in the past tense. In the wake of FLO's slow and steady sell out of the model to large corporations and TransFair USA's sprint to complete the deal, Fair Trade has bitten the dust. Now is the appropriate time to spill an espresso shot in the dirt and say a few words.

Now dry that tear because I have some good news. Out of Fair Trade's ashes there is already a movement to build something better and it is coming from the people who were virtually shut out of the old system-- the producers themselves. After four days of meetings with coffee farmers from all over Latin America, as well as mission-based coffee roasters and other allies, it is clear that there is abundant energy for rebuilding a model of fair trade with true representation from all involved and that comes from farmers themselves. This new spirit can be seen in many initiatives, but most concretely in theCoordinadora Latinoamericana y del Caribe's(CLAC) new label that highlights products grown and sold by small-scale producer cooperatives under terms defined as fair by the producers themselves and agreed upon with buyers in true partnership. This small farmer-owned certification system is up and running and will be a market force to be reckoned with by the end of 2012.

During our conversations a veteran of the small-farmer movement in Mexico summed up the situation nicely:

In 1997 we were in meetings with other fair traders when FLO announced that they were forming and would be setting the standards for our movement. Many of us stood up and walked out.He said that from that moment on farmers knew that, despite good intentions, they had already lost control of what would become branded as Fair Trade. Over the years the certifying bodies in the north controlled the conversation and set the norms with feedback from farmers, but without farmers truly having any ownership of the organization. Consumers could see farmers' faces on marketing materials and bags of coffee, but could not hear producer voices. Now farmers want their voices heard.

Fair trade is not a brand owned by companies and non-profits in the global north. The look for the label movement bet that people were simply consumers who could not stop for longer than a few seconds to think and truly care about what they were supporting with their purchases. They were wrong. True fair trade can start with a simple communication on a product, but it goes deeper as people start to ask questions about every product that they purchase-- including those bearing the label. Real fair trade is in small-farmers and their democratic cooperatives as well as in our hometown farmer's markets, small businesses, and communities-- these things are connected and worth supporting and fighting for. Authentic fair trade is a mutual agreement between people who produce things and the people who buy them. Its standards are the result of equals transparently negotiating in good faith with the intention of both parties satisfying their basic needs. All of this results-- little by little-- in a world where producers and consumers see each other as people and together work toward creating a sustainable global economy and global society.

Fair Trade is dead. It is played out, stale, corrupted, and largely meaningless. When the CEO of the US body that claims ownership of it makesa quarter million dollars a year, drops gems like Small is not beautiful, and brands small farmer advocates as fanatical, you can go ahead and close the coffin lid. When Starbucks becomes corporate leader of the system while it simultaneously boasts of paying under world market prices for its coffee in its ownCSR report, rigor mortis has set in. When plantations-- with their traditionally indentured labor forces-- are welcomed in with open arms while small farmers' voices fall on deaf ears, the bucket has officially been kicked.

Fair Trade is surely dead.

Long live fair trade.


updated by @brian horsley: 04/10/15 08:39:26AM
brian horsley
@brian horsley
12/20/11 10:26:35PM
48 posts

Suggestions needed for spent raw cacao nibs


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

mildly alcoholic cacao smoothie? could be nice for the beach (its summer here). muddle the nibs with mint for a mint chip martini? add them to any kahlua or baileys based drink?

these are all wild guesses obviously.

whats your process for the cacao/vodka, just soak them in there? how long? what temp? i love vodka and have lots of cacao, i might start my vodka as soon as tomorrow.

brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
12/15/11 08:42:17AM
48 posts

"Intentional Chocolate" - Your Thoughts [sic]?


Posted in: Opinion

this interested me because i am a long time meditator, and meditation has been shown to have measurable physical effects.....on the brains of meditators. whether those effects can be passed on to other entities in debatable, no scientific evidence exists that i know of, just a lot of new age mumbo jumbo. the "peer reviewed" article they refer to on their website is from theSeptember 2007issue of "explore, the journal of science and healing". the abstract did not impress and i'm not going to spend $12 to read the whole thing. it might or might not be real science.

but more importantly, with this as with most raw chocolate, as with many chocolates that tout "social consciousness" loudly, there is one glaring problem. from their web page:

  • The companys core mission is todo no harm and benefit others. At the highest level the brand resonates with consumers seeking to lead a more purposeful life
  • The strategic advantage is an innovative technology that embeds the intentions of advanced meditators into chocolate and bridges the gaps between spirituality and science. This is the first mind matter product in the market
  • The target market addresses a market segment that is being described as a mega-trend by 76% of executives worldwide, health and well-being. A recent Youtube video about Intentional Chocolate received over 150,000 hits in a 48-hour period.
  • The companys products facilitate individuals and organizations in expressing their deepest emotions to their loved ones, such as I love you, I miss you, thank you. In addition, these offerings represent consumers core values about the interconnectedness of the world and our relationships to one another.
  • The company intends to build purposeful partnerships through on-line retail, social networking and intentional fundraising distribution channels.
  • The unanticipated business model for Intentional Chocolate is grounded upon the principle of offerings not outcomes. This is our expression of love: 20-50% of net profits will be reinvested into purposeful partnerships and intentional causes for the benefit of mankind.
  • To walk the talk and express an attitude of gratitude our first offering to an intentional cause is to help the Dalai Lama in supporting a learning center at the Deer Park Buddhist Center in Oregon, WI that envisions an ongoing dialogue between Eastern and Western scientists about the nature of consciousness.

IT SAYS NOTHING ANYWHERE ABOUT TASTE!!! chocolate is food! if taste doesn't come first then i don't buy the model. put aside all the environmentally / socially responsible and/or new age verbiage from any number of thousands of food products, be it organic, fair trade, RA, UTZ, intentional, ethical, raw, whatever, if it doesn't taste good people won't want to eat it. so if they don't start with taste and then go to the new age stuff, it probably isn't all that good and not much of their "intention" will make it into consumer's bodies. things tend to go where they're aimed and if the aim is "do no harm," not "make great chocolate," well, you'll get harmless mediocre chocolate probably.

brian horsley
@brian horsley
10/26/11 02:30:22PM
48 posts

Nestlé’s new Maison Cailler brand


Posted in: News & New Product Press

seems like the people that want nestle chocolate can get it just about anywhere. and people who want fine chocolate with distinctive flavors can get that in more and more places. i don't know if the 2 cross over like this. but if the chocolate is truly great it will probably sell.the facebook stuff is kind of creepy. maybe i'm just a prematurely grumpy old guy but its enough with the facebook and trying to assimilate my list of friends into my every minute decision. i'm over it, i will not be logging the chocolate personalities of anyone.
brian horsley
@brian horsley
10/19/11 02:13:57PM
48 posts

What Price, Cocoa?


Posted in: Opinion

i find it hard to believe that an actual farmer....at his farm... no transport costs......for average, bulk, fermented to 70% forastero beans........ is receiving over $2000?!?!?!? seems like that would imply a pretty rich farmer by local standards. I could believe that a middleman who undertakes the risky and costly transport between farm and port could get that......maybe. is this really true? Laurent are you on the ground there?

while incredulous i certainly hope its true. I am 100% all for farmers making good money on their beans.

brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
09/30/11 11:42:17AM
48 posts

Cocoa Bean Storage


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Hi shana, i know about warehousing large amounts of cacao beans, the basic principles should apply for small scale too.

humidity will cause mold if you don't keep the air moving, you need a well ventilated place. if the air is dry then ventilation is less important. so for instance if they're in a closed cupboard in a humid place, and particularly if they're very dry, like below 7%, they will uptake water and can get moldy. you could leave the cupboard door a little open and put a small 15cm fan in there and it should help the problem.

temp is not as important, generally speaking the cooler the better so 15-18 is no problem at all. when you get up into tropical temps you have to think more about it.

you want to keep the beans away from potential contaminants and odors as they can uptake those too. so if there's dust, if you're cooking strong odors nearby like garlic, if the cabinets themselves have any kind of food or chemical odor, or if they're exposed to smoke of any kind, you can have off flavors in the beans and hence the chocolate. also this is more for when you have a concrete floor/walls, but they should be off the floor on wood pallets and never touching the walls. I cover the floor and walls in heavy gauge plastic to avoid contact and/or contamination.

finally there are some bugs that will attack cacao beans in tropical climates. i can't imagine its a problem in ireland but if you have ventilation holes or leave the cupboard door open, you may want to screen the beans off with a simple flexible mosquito mesh to stop small moths or flying baddies from getting in there and laying eggs in your beans.

hope this helps,

brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
08/18/11 01:28:03PM
48 posts

better pricing for better cacao


Posted in: Opinion

as jim says, the only way to have growers interested in growing fine cacao, organic cacao, fermenting and drying, or doing anything other than low quality high volume, is to make it more profitable for them by paying a premium price for beans. and the only way to do that is to have a high end market to sell the higher priced beans into, as beans or as chocolate. so it requires a holistic approach with a strategy for moving the premium priced beans into the fine market at a profitable markup.

what jim says about the discards is very important. if i ask a farmer to sell me only his best beans, what does he do with the rest? the acopiador (middleman) who used to buy all his beans will not accept only his worst beans, or will pay an unattracticely low price. what we do to address this is buy the bad beans dry at the next harvest, at local market price, transport them along with the good beans, and mix them along with our flat and small discards from my post-harvest processing plant, and sell them to an acopiador. that way the farmer is happy andthe acopiador is satisfied. its not profitable for me but its not a loss either and the farmer is happy which is the most imporant thing.

saludos

brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
08/24/11 12:45:59PM
48 posts

Buying Fair Trade Chocolate in Bulk


Posted in: Classifieds

what products you need

how much of each

product specs

timeline

delivery / incoterms / payment terms desired

anything other detail you can think of

saludos

brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
08/20/11 11:34:32AM
48 posts

Buying Fair Trade Chocolate in Bulk


Posted in: Classifieds

I know that the cacao they use is 70% or more ccn51. i also know that they have organic cert., i just saw the certificate hanging in their office a couple days ago. Here in Peru ccn51 is grown organically in the areas i work in, so presumably can be and is in the areas naranjillo works in. i honestly can't speak to how effective or accurate the organic certification is here, or whether naranjillo is separating organic from non-organic really strictly, but ccn51 is grown without chemical inputs here in peru, i've seen it personally.

brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
08/18/11 01:01:57PM
48 posts

Buying Fair Trade Chocolate in Bulk


Posted in: Classifieds

hi guys, i see i wasn't clear, i was referring specifically to naranjillo's FT cocoa powder in my first response. naranjillo does make chocolate but itspretty sweet stuff for the domestic peru market, not really anything for a more discerning market. right now they have a bunch of what they call 55% couverture which is 35% cacao, 20% cocoa butter, 45% sugar, and the cacao they use is mostly ccn51.

my impression is that while they want to get into exportable quality chocolate, for now they specialize in butter and cocoa powder, which as clay says appears to be pretty good quality. their factory is modern and well run. I'm meeting with their manager in lima monday on another matter, if you like todd send me your data and needs, i can give it to him and you can judge for youself if you want to consider them based on his response.

just so everyone is clear i have no affiliation with naranjillo, i have no monetary interest in todd's decision, i offered to help as a professional courtesy, nothing more.

brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
08/17/11 08:19:23PM
48 posts

Buying Fair Trade Chocolate in Bulk


Posted in: Classifieds

what clay says is correct, doing pretty much any business in peru requires speaking spanish, spending time in peru, and having a top notch customs person. customer service is generally poor to non-existent here. working with a peruvian supplier only over the phone from the us is dubious.

i haven't worked with naranjillo, just been to the factory and know them, so take what he says well in mind todd. i know they make the product you're looking for, and can make an introduction if you want.

bh

brian horsley
@brian horsley
08/17/11 04:21:28PM
48 posts

Buying Fair Trade Chocolate in Bulk


Posted in: Classifieds

hi from peru todd, i just replied to sacred steve about a similar query. i was in a factory today that produces literally tons of organic FT cocoa powder, and there are other options here in peru as well. the production quality is very good. the beans are mostly ccn51, conventional, notat the high end of fine and flavor, but not like african bulk stuff. I know everybody down here, if you want a connection let me know.

saludos

brian

brian horsley
@brian horsley
07/08/11 12:02:54AM
48 posts

What would an "ideal" ethical certification program look like?


Posted in: Opinion

unfortunately everything is dangerous for a smallholder in a poor country, so much can go wrong and there is usually no margin for error. no farmer can really trust the intentions of buyers, even me. I could easily die on the dangerous highways of peru any time i take an overnight bus trip which is often. but i do offer a good deal, fair and advantageous to the farmers, which is why they have responded.

you're right that the farmers may get stuck, but with or without me there's no incentive for them to do post-harvest. and if i insist on them doing it then I'm forcing them to make an unnecessary investment AND sacrificing quality. so you pick your poison and try to do the right thing while making sure everybody can make a living.

our ratio of wet beans to dry exportable is much less than half, in fact under 40%, which i think is normal.

brian horsley
@brian horsley
07/01/11 10:51:05AM
48 posts

What would an "ideal" ethical certification program look like?


Posted in: Opinion

Much of what NGO's do ends up being neutral or even harmful because they think in 3 year funding cycle timelines, and they say what funders want to hear to get their capital. it takes a cacao tree 3 years to produce, 4 to produce to nearly full capacity, so farmers and ngo's have fundamentally different time perspectives. to get funding they typically say something like "we will expand production from 150 to 400 Ha., form and strengthen associations and co-ops, assisting 500 families, provide tech assistance from crop management through post harvest, and help with marketing so they can export at fine and flavor prices, plus organic and fair trade." in other words, impossible to do in 5-7 years, much less in 2 or 3.

i have run a non-profit before and know many people in that industry, they are nearly 100% good people with fine intentions, but this structural problem in how they attract capital and the length of their programs often ends up convincing farmers to invest in nonsensical things. like, as you say, cert.'s and business practices that are not sustainable when the outside $$ go away. And, as a businessman, i would say that the ngo folks are usually not businesspeople and when they get involved in marketing and logistics its not their strength.

As for USAID, they have lots of $$ and a mandate, and within the limits of that mandate i think they do a good job here in peru. I have said to them many times that some small % of the $$ should go to prevention in areas that are not yet coca producing, not just to increasing hectarage of cacao in current coca areas. but like all govt. programs they do their best within strict guidelines, and they're good people, not like the caricature of bureaucrats.

In my area the average association would be 50-60 producers, maybe? some as many as 300+, some as small as a dozen farmers in one caserio.

post-harvest is interesting. my project buys beans en baba, or with the pulp on, strictly separated by variety, and we do all the post-harvest, and export into the fine market. farmers here love the model because most of them are coffee farmers as well, and right as the cacao harvest is heavy the coffee ripens and they have no time to attend to their cacao. in my model, they spend 2 days a month on cacao, make more $$, and have more time for coffee. in my area, most farmers just want to be rid of post-harvest. but that may not be true in other areas, you would know better. also, other than my project, there is no sales option here that gives a premium for quality, so any time spent on fermentation is time lost.

which is the long way of saying that there isn't a clamor for post-harvest training here, but that may be a local phenomenon. if full fermenting and complete drying during the rainy season paid well and didn't cost high value time away from coffee i'm sure they would do it.

brian

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